Southern California environment news and trends

Row on: Paddling season for the LA River begins this week

After a successful launch in 2011, popular Paddle the LA River program returns this year with a substantially expanded schedule of guided kayak and canoe tours along a scenic stretch of the river in the San Fernando Valley.

A partnership between environmental groups including the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, Friends of the Los Angeles River and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, last year’s inaugural Paddle The LA River sold out all 260 tours in a mere ten minutes. Tickets for this year’s tours are priced at $53.74 (which includes a handling fee of $3.74) and go on sale tomorrow morning (Tuesday, July 17) at 7 a.m.

While the number of tours has been bumped up to over 2000 this year, ticket sales are expected to be brisk, so aspiring paddlers would be wise to score tickets sooner than later. The first public outings are scheduled to begin this Saturday, July 21. The season runs through September 29.

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Jaws 2012: Shark encounters abound on both coasts

Cage Diving With Great White Sharks In South Africa

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

From the chilling shot of a shark’s dorsal fin closing in on a solo boater in Cape Cod to a kayaker in Santa Cruz County being attacked by a Great White, America hasn’t seen this much coastal shark activity since “Jaws” dominated the 1975 summer movie box office.

As reported by the Mercury News, a 52-year-old man was approximately a quarter-mile from the shore of Pleasure Point this past Saturday morning when a shark attacked the bright yellow 13.5-foot kayak he was using to fish, sending him into the water as the shark, estimated at 18 feet long and suspected to be a Great White, chomped on the kayak. The man was rescued shaken but unharmed by a nearby boat.

“It started with a violent jolt on the rear starboard side. The back of my kayak rose a few feet then the attack soon happened,” wrote the attack survivor on the norcalkayakanglers.com message board, posting as “FishingAddict.” “I saw the shark's head come out of the water and bite the starboard underside. His head was gray and white underneath his mouth. His mouth was already close when I saw him come out of the surface with my kayak in his mouth.  I can still vividly see the seriousness on his eyes. This all happened in about 2 seconds.

“The force of his attack threw me into the water and turned the Revo completely upside down.  I immediately started yelling, ‘SHARK, SHARK!’ several times…” his accounted continued. “I see the private boat heading towards me and in a flash decided it’s my best chance of survival.  I did a slow breaststroke towards the boat and jumped (aboard).”

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